- Savannah Smith is a high school student and National Beta Club member with a passion for writing and community outreach.
On the second Tuesday of every month, car and motorcycle enthusiasts congregate at a local Evangelical church. Often, regulars bring souped-up show cars: classic Ford Thunderbirds, Chevrolet Camaros, BMWs, and a Porsche have made appearances, but all engines and all people are welcome.
For the July meeting, organizers provided cupcakes and sodas as refreshments. New visitors milled around engaging in discussions about their summer hobby projects and discovering shared interests with fellow auto-buffs. Despite the casual atmosphere, this group is on a mission.
Also known as “Fuel,” the organization is an outreach ministry based out of WellSpring Christian Church in Spring Hill, Tennessee— recently dubbed one of Nashville’s hottest suburbs. The group aims to provide free information and practical repair skills to those who lack proper access to auto maintenance resources while also providing a space for fellowship.
A co-founder of Fuel explained the main methods in which they strive to serve the underprivileged: “We do a lot to try to help the homeless and fight homelessness. If you live in a rural area and lose your transportation, you lose your ability to get to work. Then you lose your income and can’t afford to pay the bills. Oftentimes for only twenty, fifty, or a hundred dollars, we can stop that chain of events early on by providing auto care.”
The club is not just for those experiencing financial hardships. The current leaders have expressed particular sentiment for supporting “younger folks and single moms” through the ministry. However, they are keen to educate anyone from any background who is willing and eager to learn about automobil upkeep.
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Charitable initiatives are necessary for community recovery
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the costs of both new and used cars have skyrocketed. As people transition back to the office or enter into the workforce, the need for auto-maintenance will increase dramatically. However, many families lack the resources for such services as auto-repair shops raise prices to keep up with inflation.
As we recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, both as individuals and as a community, the need for charitable initiatives is imperative. The current economic circumstances require generosity —especially from those with extra— if those with little are to heal and grow from the past year’s crisis. Even with the extensive federal stimulus program, many families have continued to struggle just to make ends meet.
In most cases what the government cannot do, our communities can. Local food banks distribute meals, adding to those provided by the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). Socially aware students host donation drives for school supplies designated for underprivileged peers that can’t afford the typical materials needed for meaningful study.
Organizations such as Fuel provide a maintenance and education service for those without access to public transportation. As we rebuild, we need more practical outreach and unifiers. The rhetoric only goes so far; there is serious work to be done.
In a perfect world, policy and government activity would be much broader in its benefits. However, for the time being, organizations like Fuel offer a way to make up the difference for what subsidy programs cannot provide.
As the Volunteer State, we should take responsibility for our neighbors in this time of recovery. We, the people, are the vehicles that move society forward, whether policy follows suit or not.
Savannah Smith is a high school student and National Beta Club member with a passion for writing and community outreach.